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Hannibal: Naka-Choko

“You can’t reduce me to a set of influences. I’m not the product of anything. I’ve given up good and evil… for behaviorism.”

Last season, slotted into 10th position was ‘Buffet Froid’. Remember? We were all screaming at our screens, riled up and feisty about what was happening with Will Graham because this show.

I was personally so appalled by bad doctors and Will’s encephalitis I almost couldn’t continue with the same fullness of heart. There was SO MUCH disbelief to suspend. But I did continue. And we will now, too. Even though things look really bleak. We will persevere. We’ll do it together. Because this show. Here we go now, ‘Naka-choko’.

Can you see you?

Let’s just get to it. Did Will kill Freddie? I am willing to go all in on no and here’s why. At the end of this episode, we are to believe one of two things: Will has lost his mind or Will has convinced Hannibal that he is a confidant. I can’t lie, there would be something so gutsy and revolutionary about it being the former that my mantra would just have to be RESPECT for the rest of this series' run but that just isn’t the story Fuller is telling. There’s no dramatic irony in that story, not the kind Bryan Fuller gets out of bed for. The thing is, we are, as an audience, exactly where the creative team wants us. Hanging on the edge, hands slipping, on the brink of disbelief. Plus, we're so twisted up in previous indelible images from the Thomas Harris world, white-knuckle attached to the idea that this series is going to be particularly rooted in what’s come before it that we are tricking ourselves into what we are seeing/not seeing. It’s the exact definition of subverting expectation. “In other words, the story does not trick the player, the player tricks himself.” (Oh, Hideo Kojima.) What's so brilliant is that Fuller is using what we already knew going into this world to play with us. It's like an accidental on-purpose downpour of blessings. (Game of Thrones is going through the same thing right now but that’s a whole other hornet’s nest.) Anyway, Fuller wrote it right into the dialogue (as he often does): You’ll want to retreat… Stay with me.

This is my design.

Did Will create Randall Tier’s murder tableau with his own hands? Yes. I still cannot pull apart and put back together WTF with the new murder barn behind his sweet innocuous dog-filled farmhouse but there’s an answer there, too, although it may be more straightforward… and unpleasant. We just aren’t privy to it yet. I looked so closely at Randall’s becoming in the museum and tried to imagine Will doing that all by himself. Then the freezer Freddie discovers, not to mention where the meat came from during the “hey, long pig's for dinner" at Hannibal’s house during the last act. It’s a lot to reconcile but someone posed Randall. And everything that came with it. How hilariously dark it was when Hannibal and Will played off of each other when the FBI gathered at the museum crime scene. And wasn’t Will so weirdly endearing with his defense of his choices. His design, as it turns out, is as earnest and unassuming as he is, at his core. I keep remembering that.

This is the nightmare that followed him out of his dreams.

Once again we have an opening sequence that shows us insight into Will’s state of mind. The really real. He didn’t kill Randall with anything close to ease. In fact, he didn’t ‘kill’ Randall at all, he killed the antlered man. Only when Randall was dead did Will look down and see the actual face that was in front of him the whole time. Interestingly, he couldn’t even kill Randall!Hannibal, he could only finish the job when he saw Randall as Hannibal and Hannibal as the wendigo. When Will did the thing in the museum, it was just a formality, right? No need for a re-enactment. And my god, what a different feel it had. Not since Beverly was he so unsure of the reality of this process. The conversation he had with Randall, a first--assessing, judging and justifying his choices in the presence of this killer who is still very much alive for Will.

I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

Wow, that sex scene. I loved it. It said so much about… so much. (And the only reason I watched it on a loop for an hour was in service of this recap, I swear.) At one point, I actually thought Bob was going to peak out from behind someone’s dresser. Bryan Fuller and company, WALK WITH ME. Can you see you? Will is still tethered to his sanity, in my opinion, but something dark and unsettling about his mindset these days are his increasing encounters (as an empath the lines between conscious and unconscious are blurred to say the least) with his mind-trickery. Pretty quickly into the childlike inviolate tryst with Margot, he was imagining Alana. And while everyone’s boundaries are at best really really wispy in the intended juxtaposition of these two couples (not to mention their individual borders: Margot’s agenda, Margot’s sexual preference, two patients of the same psychiatrist in bed together, Alana sleeping with her mentor and that’s just the surface), these moments are still laid before us through Will’s POV, it’s his compass that’s up for our consideration. Margot seduced him but Hannibal was so obviously behind this (as was her fearful recent interaction with Mason) and I think Will knew it and just gave in to whatever small bit of pleasure a physical connection might yield at this point in time. But once his mind enters Hannibal’s bedroom, all he has is the curse of his empathy in all its exhaustive glory. The last few moments, full of the same pain crinkled on his face, he reaches for the comfort of Alana as she reaches for Hannibal.

Odds and Ends

*I didn’t focus on the actual introduction to Mason here not because it was ancillary but because there will be much more to discuss in the coming weeks about this character and I thought there were more pressing matters at hand. That said, I love what Michael Pitt is doing from how he walks and talks to his awful sadistic sparkle.

*I also didn’t highlight the dinner with Alana, Hannibal and Will which was pretty amazing insane in its dynamics. I loved Hannibal’s face when without breaking a sweat Will sassed Alana that it should be enough for the two men to know where they are with each other. Hannibal was *dying* in any and every way that his micro mannerisms give him up.

*When Freddie accosted Alana at the university, the fact that Alana made an actual sound that meant “OH GOD NOT YOU” was just perfectly over the top.

*The pacing was so interesting in this episode. Each scene lasted a lot longer and there were fewer of them because of it. The enduring quality of each interaction had a dreamlike feel while reiterating the immutable nature of Hannibal and Will’s ‘evolved’ friendship.

*I don't know what else to say about this but Jack at the museum was priceless. Brian Reitzell has given Jack’s side-eye its own soundtrack.

*Chilton mention!

*The only moment capable of breaking Will’s face open was the mention of Abigail.

*That shot of Hannibal in Freddie’s motel room with his plastic snuff suit was -- I don’t even know… I have no words.

*In regards to that last scene, Will was as apprehensive as ever, waiting to see just how refined Hannibal's palate is. He looked at him, he studied him, he watched to see if Hannibal was picking up what he was laying down, if you will. On the surface there was a much different vibe but one layer deep, Will was pretty much freaking out.

* Finally, ICYMI: Bryan Fuller tweeted out this pic last Friday morning and then basically just watched Twitter/Tumblr burst into flames after.


Hannibal: “It’s the prospect of death that drives us to greatness.”

Hannibal: “Don’t go inside, Will. You’ll want to retreat. You’ll want it, as the glint of the rail tempts us when we hear the approaching train.”

Hannibal: “Stay with me.”
Will: “Where else would I go.”

Will: “I’ve never felt as alive as I did when I was killing him.”

Hannibal: “This killer has no fear for the consequences of what he has done.”
Will: “No guilt.”

Will: “You forced me to kill you.”
Randall: “I didn’t force you to enjoy it. You made me a monument.”
Will: “You’re welcome.”

Freddie: “Hollywood is a fine place for the obnoxious and wealthy.”
Will: “You’re not wealthy, Freddie.”

Freddie: “Hannibal Lecter is your psychiatrist again. What’s up with that?”
Will: “I was wrong about him; that’s what’s up with that.”

Hannibal: “In love you take leave of your senses but in hatred you must be present to calculate your actions.”

Margot: “Well you do have an unparalleled understanding of piggishness.”
Mason: “Your mouth gets rough when you’re scared, Margot. Tough as a livery pony who’s resentful of the bit.”

Will: “I don’t have the right parts for your proclivities, Margot.”

Alana: “No one likes a know-it-all, Freddie.”

Will: "We know where we are with each other. Shouldn’t that be enough?”
Hannibal: “Better the devil you know.”

Will: “She was a slim and delicate pig.”

Hannibal: “You slice the ginger.”


  1. Let's get this out of the way. You're one of my favorite people for quoting Hideo Kojima. Great review as always.

    This episode definitely had this surreal quality to it. Especially during that sex scene. I didn't know which way was up during it man.

    I also believe Freddie's still alive. But it was amazing how much the scene in the barn echoed Beverly finding out Hannibal's secret. And Will was so haunting during their encounter. Can't really blame Freddie for freaking out. Speaking of which, this was probably the most relatable and "normal" Freddie has ever felt to me on the show.

    I'd be remiss to not mention the king of the creeps Mason Verger. Man that is one twisted son of a gun. I anticipated him being a creepster, but once again this show upped the ante on me. He's even got Hannibal kinda go "Dude, you need to bring it down a notch."

  2. I know I'm stating the obvious and preaching to the choir, but I'll say it anyway: how is it that a show like this is "on the bubble" while shows like "Keeping up with the Kardashians", "Survivor" (yes, "Survivor"), "Two and a half Men", "The Bachelor", et al enjoy success? Yes, I understand, most reality shows don't cost that much to produce, relatively speaking. But I doubt that "Two and a half Men" is cheap. I watch some shows because I love the characters and story arc (Supernatural). The writers are clever and there is a complicity with their fans. They often write "to" their audience. And I watch some shows because I know that I'm seeing something totally cutting edge, completely conceptual, with a sure hand at the tiller. Hannibal is one of those shows. Even when I'm being shown something repulsive or something I don't want to see, I am compelled to watch. It's not a case of slowing down to watch an accident on the highway (at least I don't think so). It's a matter of knowing I'm being shown something great and respecting that I must watch it all. And when I think about other shows that are just coasting along or cashing in... well, I just shake my head.

  3. Well, I don't think most people watch television to be challenged, existentially horrified, or depressed. In general, folks are just looking for entertainment or escapism, and I think what this show offers is considered "entertaining" by a fairly narrow audience. It's simply too dark. It's even starting to become too dark and unsettling for me. I've got a reasonably high threshold for darkness, and there's no denying that the performances and the aesthetic for Hannibal are compelling, but I'm about to reach my limit with this journey.

    Even if Will is playing Hannibal and the audience re: Freddie --- and I believe he is --- it seems he really did "design" Randall's tableau. Does it matter if it was in service of catching a greater monster? At the end of the day, Will's not just playing Hannibal. He's becoming less than the decent, well-intentioned man he was, and it is hard to watch him destroy himself in the service of the greater good. That's the kind of thing that is easier to process over the relatively short haul of a movie or a book, but in a more drawn out format like this it becomes too much. Especially when the possibility of hope seems even more remote than on The Walking Dead. What good is catching Hannibal if it comes at the cost of Will's soul, and possibly Jack's for allowing it to happen? Sure, it saves the lives of future victims, but not the lives of those we've grown to care about most.

    Watching Will lose, even as he seemingly takes more control, is only slightly harder than it is to watch what Fuller has done to poor Alana. I cannot stand what has happened to her character, and that sex scene was a huge part of the reason this episode left me with a very bad taste in my mouth.

    I enjoy your enthusiasm for the show, Heather, and I'm going to stay with it to the end of the season, but I'm not sure I'll be in for a third season should one be forthcoming. I guess we'll see how things progress over the next few weeks.

  4. You make a lot of good points, Jess. And I suppose this show can only be what it is. They can't tinker with it or it would be another, lesser show. Remember what happened (in a completely different universe) to Community last season? I know you're not saying they should do that, just that not everyone is on board with their choices. Plus, I do hear where many are coming from in their complaints about how poor Alana has been handled.

  5. Yeah, I definitely don't want it to be anything other than what it is. I just understand why "what it is" doesn't get higher ratings. It's a difficult show to watch on a number of levels, and not for all tastes. And, for me, it's becoming increasingly difficult to watch, even though I generally appreciate what it's doing on a thematic level.

  6. I think Freddie's okay. Wow that sex scene..that was disturbing and well dreamlike and hot.
    Mason Verger is super creepy. Props to Michael Pitt.
    Great review as ever.
    And also.. the show got a third season. Yay. Despite being too much to take for some, I get that..it gives me nightmares but it's okay. The horror fans dilemma..watching creepy things despite knowing they will haunt you.

  7. I agree with you about the sex scene. It was hot and twisted at the same time. The overall show seems to being having more and more erotic overtones. And I like that.


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